App search engine Quixey has announced a relationship with Alibaba in China that will bring its search capabilities to the latter’s mobile operating system YunOS. Quixey enables users to search for content within apps — essentially what Google does for PC search Quixey is doing for apps.
Quixey calls this “functional search.” It depends on so-called deep linking supported by the company’s AppURL standard. In its press release Quixey declares that through its Alibaba partnership, AppURL is or will become “the official deep linking standard in China.”
Alibaba previously invested $50 million in Quixey.
Both Google and Facebook are also pursuing in-app linking. For Google the ability to surface content from apps in mobile search results is a key to greater mobile relevance and usage. Rival Facebook said not long ago that its “App Link” has enabled more than one billion in-app links.
Quixey also announced a developer program in China that provides a range of tools, and eventually monetization to developers there:
There are reportedly “millions of YunOS users.” The Quixey Chinese developer site claims working with the company’s SDK will provide access to over 100 million Chinese smartphone users.
Alibaba says that several Chinese handset makers have adopted the YunOS and the company is providing financial incentives for smartphone makers to do so. However none of these manufacturers are the major smartphone brands; they’re all budget Chinese handsets catering to the very low end of the market.
In 2012 Alibaba announced what was then called the “Aliyun mobile operating system” (AMOS) a “forked” version of Android. The company also announced a high-profile deal with Acer in China. Google forced Acer to cancel AMOS-based handset, claiming that AMOS was a “non-compatible” version of Android and that Acer, as a member of the Open Handset Alliance, was compelled to use only compatible versions.
Google sought to prevent a major handset OEM defection to non-standard Android in China, which would further exacerbate platform fragmentation. Since that time it has tightened controls over Android. Amazon is the major Android forker in the market currently.
Alibaba has now renamed AMOS “YunOS.” It’s unclear how successful YunOS can ultimately be without the support of at least one of the major handset brands in China.
The higher end of the Chinese smartphone market is currently closed to YunOS, with standard Android on Samsung, ZTE and Huawei phones. Apple also announced yesterday that there were 20 million pre-orders in China for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in China.
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